Movie Review: Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008)
A demon, code named Hellboy (Ron Perlman), but called Red by his friends, is saved by paranormal investigators when he is very small and raised to be a defender against the forces of darkness. However, as he has grown into a large, bright red mammoth with an attitude, he wants nothing more than to be accepted as a normal person by the society he is asked to protect. The government, expectedly, wishes to keep him secret while he and his team comprised of members Liz Sherman (Selma Blair), Abe Sapien (Doug Jones), and Johann Kraus (John Alexander) protect the world from everything and anything their leaders find threatening. Hellboy II: The Golden Army picks up their story when one day, they are sent out to investigate what happened at an auction house where all the people have disappeared. What they find is the beginnings of a war between the monsters who live in the dark underworld and humans.
Writer and director Guillermo del Toro smears his Pan’s Labyrinth style all over Hellboy II: The Golden Army. Often dark and gritty, the visuals in the movie range from average to amazing. Perhaps it is because del Toro is willing to venture so far into the fantasy realm that it makes the characters plausible. The creatures are so fanciful and beautifully created that I completely accepted their existence without question, even though they are so outrageous as to be unbelievable. Their lighting, their shading and the movement of their bodies made them so realistic, I was wholly mesmerized. As much as I wanted to say, “No”, my mind kept saying, “Yes”. And when it comes to death, Hellboy II: The Golden Army has what I consider to be the most beautiful death scenes I have ever seen, in any form, ever.
The plot, however, is not as shining as the visuals. Guillermo del Toro does his best to give the plot of Hellboy II: The Golden Army a tender meaning but all the attempts to blossom into something powerful and touching wither when he can’t give the story the fertilizer it needs to truly touch the audience. There are scenes a-plenty that are supposed to sell the relationship between characters that don’t have any resonance. This is especially true in the relationship between Abe Sapien and Princess Nuala (Anna Walton).
But all is not lost. The relationships between Princess Nuala and Prince Nuada (Luke Goss), and Hellboy and Abe Sapien are not a waste though. Nuala and Nuada share a very special bond and even though it is not the first time a movie has presented such a relationship, del Toro’s re-creation is beautiful and unnerving. Hellboy and Sapien on the other hand, have a dirtier connection that is more complete (a consequence of being in Hellboy, no doubt) and infused with equal parts humor and sensitivity. Actually, most of the relationships between Hellboy and the other characters are dirtier and rely on some form of humor. From my standpoint this is to be applauded – the laughter was easily one of the better parts of the movie. I laughed more often and harder than I expected, but not enough to take away from the overall drama of the movie.
So even though I was not necessarily taken by the script, I left the theater satisfied with the overall story and lost in the beauty of the creatures in Hellboy II: The Golden Army. It has its flaws but it is a serious popcorn-chomper that work wells for both men and women, so plan your movie date accordingly.